New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Importance of the Commons

July 17, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Jay Walljasper

In Praise of Vacant Lots and Community Development

by Jay Walljasper

It’s easy to talk about the importance of the commons in grand terms — vast stretches of breathtaking  wilderness, publicly funded advances in science and technology, essential cultural and civic institutions,  the air and water which we all depend on for survival. But let’s not forget the lowly commons all around that enrich our lives. Things like sidewalks, playgrounds, community gardens, murals, neighborhood hangouts, and vacant lots. Especially vacant lots.

Modern society’s obsession with efficiency, productivity, and purposefulness sometimes blinds us to the epic possibilities of empty spaces that aren’t serving any profitable economic function. The word “vacant” itself implies that these places are devoid of value. But think back to all the imaginative uses you could discover for vacant land as a kid. You probably realized someone else owned it, but it was still yours to run around, play ball, plant a garden, host tea parties, pitch a tent or just get away from the watchful eye of adults. Thankfully, commoners in many places are working to make sure that vacant lots will be there for future generations of kids. (more…)

The Lever of Social Action

May 30, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Resisting the Inevitability of War

by Robert C. Koehler

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”

I think Archimedes was serious. I know we need to be. Now is the time to choose our future, as the Earth Charter declares. This means thinking big: embracing a vision so enormous it overflows our sense of the possible. For instance:

“Beginning with even just a small group united behind a shared vision of how to end war by dismantling the war machine, it will be possible to rally the global community to the vision of a future in which war is no longer something we accept.” So Judith Hand wrote recently at the blog A Future Without War. (more…)

Letting Murderers Go Free

May 22, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Laura L. Finley, Politics

Take Action to Help End the Death Penalty

by Laura L. Finley

Breaking News: In Florida, a murderer has made public his plans to kill three individuals in the next six weeks. If all goes according to his plan, Elmer Carroll will die on May 29th, William Van Poyk will die on June 12th, and Marshal Gore will die on June 24th. And what is more, this murderer has admitted that he has killed before; in fact, he killed three people in 2012 alone.  Clearly this man is a serial killer who has killed and plans to keep doing so.

If this perpetrator were an average person like us, these highly publicized murder plans would be the subject of mass public outrage and the focus of tremendous law enforcement attention. A manhunt would be under way to catch the “evildoer.” Once apprehended, prosecutors would spare nothing to win the case and see this bloodthirsty felon held accountable for his crimes.

But, of course, the perpetrator is not like us. He is Florida Governor Rick Scott, and he has vowed to deplete Florida’s death row as quickly as possible. (more…)

What Works

April 03, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Michael True, Politics

Notes on the Invention of Peacemaking

by Michael True

As human beings, we have been persistent and sophisticated in developing means of killing one another, most recently with weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear weapons and drones that have victimized hundreds of innocent civilians, including women and children, in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.

Strategies for war-making date from about 2,500 years ago, with the publication of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War,” which has been updated, reprinted, and translated hundreds of times in many languages.

In contrast, we are only beginning to develop strategies for peacemaking and to commit ourselves to learning the skills that it requires.

In “The Invention of Peace” (2001), Sir Michael Howard, a major English military historian, points out that the concept of peace in international and public affairs dates from the publication of Immanuel Kant’s 1795 treatise, “Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch,” only just over two centuries ago. (more…)

War No More

March 21, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Politics, Randall Amster

Ten Years After the Invasion of Iraq, Are We Any Closer to Peace?

by Randall Amster

No one in power specifically called it “a date which will live in infamy,” but when the U.S. commenced the invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003, it changed the political map of the world in ways we are still trying to disentangle. The basic idea that nations would only wage war for bona fide reasons and with general support from the international community — tattered as those notions already were — was essentially laid to rest with the Iraq war. What is especially troubling is that we didn’t even need the benefit of hindsight to realize the full implications; in real time and without precedent, millions (perhaps even billions) around the world raised principled objections to the impending war before it commenced. Many people knew (and said) that it was illegal, unjust, and immoral, but to no avail. And so it goes…

A decade later, the fictitious rationales of “weapons of mass destruction,” liberating people from an evil dictator, promoting human rights, and “restoring democracy,” are almost laughable and are not seriously asserted as a viable basis for the war. (more…)

Autonomous Organization

March 06, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Guest Author

Zapatistas and the Struggle for Survival on Planet Earth

by Helen Jaccard and Gerry Condon

After visiting Guatemala for two months, we crossed the border into Chiapas on December 21 — Winter Solstice and the 13th Baktun — the first day of the New Mayan Era.  On that very day, the Zapatistas made a dramatic reappearance.  After four years of silence amid speculation about the status of their movement, more than 40,000 Zapatistas appeared in five towns they had occupied by force nineteen years earlier on January 1, 1994 — Ocosingo, Las Margaritas, Altamirano, Palenque and San Cristobal de Las Casas. Inspiring a profound sense of awe, men and women marched silently together in the rain, wearing ponchos and their trademark ski masks, unarmed, with young children on their backs. (more…)

Demanding Action

March 04, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Guest Author, Politics

Betrayal of Trust on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation

by Gina Mason

Living with radiation sickness is not on my bucket list and I would hazard that it isn’t on yours either. Nor is it what I have in mind for my children’s future. Yet our government continues to manufacture nuclear materials and unsafely store radioactive waste in clear violation of the public trust.Nowhere is this more visible than at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the most radioactively contaminated site in the western hemisphere, where we now know radioactive sludge is leaking badly from at least six underground tanks. While Hanford is technically in Washington State, the management of this catastrophe is vitally important to the rest of the nation — indeed, the biosphere. Unfortunately, environmental disasters do not stop at city, state, or national borders. (more…)